- TBI -- Traumatic Brain Injury
- ADA -- Americans with Disabilities Act.
- DSS -- Disabled Student Services at UC Santa Cruz.
- DSPS - Disabled Student Programs and Services at Cabrillo College.
- DRC -- Disabled Resource Center at UC Santa Cruz.
- DSS became DRC after I graduated from UC Santa Cruz.
drawn by me at Kresge college
UC Santa Cruz, Winter 1982
TBI & Higher Education
I survived an accident July 16, 1983), that my family and friends thought was lethal.
After six weeks
in a coma, I woke to a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and
a new reality.
I had been unaware of how disabled
people were treated, though I soon found out.
I continued with school at UC Santa Cruz in Fall 1984 and graduated with a degree in Biochemistry in 1989.
The homework was ruining me. I did not have time for anything else, because I was writing so slow (about 1/6 as fast
as before I was disabled - a 15 hour homework assignment would take 90 hours). In the Fall of 1984, the Head of DSS told me
I was being ungrateful for asking for writing assistence.
Their policy of social
isolation, by denial-of-service, was very effective in ruining my self-image and social life. The policy of DSS toward permanently disabled
students ensured I had no time to associate with my fellow students, as I was always working on
my homework, which was; hard to read, incomplete and poorly composed.
I had no chance to make friends.
Their denail-of-service combined with the academic pressures of the university,
was causing me to feel suicidal.
In 1984 I first asked for writing assistance and was refused. Click on
denial-of-service for details (close the window that opens to return to this page).
I was isolated from my
fellow students. I was made to feel like a freak for
wanting to pursue an education. I had few friends, my girlfriend had dumped me six months before while I was
in the hospital- I felt like s***. The existance,
DSS had consigned me to, was finally getting to me. I was starting to go crazy.
In spring 1987, I was talking
to my sister and I started 'joking' about suicide. The social isolation coupled with lack of service by DSS was
finally driving me insane.
She got very alarmed, started questioning me. That was when I was living alone and could not do a lot of stuff. I moved to a house with other
people soon, thereaqfter. Much to her relief.
After I graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1989, DSPS (at Cabrillo College) continued with the same policies of
isolating me from my fellow students and reinforcing my self-loathing through denial-of-service. This had the effect
of making me feel like
there was something inherently wrong with me for being disabled, for needing writing help. I was humiliated everyday I
was at Cabrillo College.
What follows is an example of the crazy thoughts that were running around in my head. Social isolation was getting to me. I
carry its effects to this day.
By clicking on consequences the reader will see what I mean (close the
window that opens to return to this page).
Thinking back, when my girlfriend had left me, I could not remember why I had felt such pain, why I had felt such
devastation. Her reason for leaving me was
abundently clear. I was a worthless piece-of-s***. I was
surprised she had not left me sooner. DSPS saw through my charade too, though much quicker than she had.
The lack of accommodation for my disability was expected.
After five years
of humiliation and social isolation I had become numb to my wants and needs. It no longer seemed to me anything I
felt was of interest to another human.
I did not question what DSPS was doing to me, why they were treating me the way that they were. DSPS was giving
me access to higher education - so I
was led to believe.
I did not question why DSPS continued to isolate me from my fellow students. I blindly accepted my terrible self-image,
never wondering where it
came from. I never wondered why I would feel the way I did about myself.
I did not question the policies of DSPS that
were constantly reinforcing my negative self-image and focusing on my feelings of worthlessness. I never wondered about
the source of
the suicidal thoughts that
sometimes occupied my mind when I was at Cabrillo College.
I never (not once) had those thoughts when I was off campus. I made few friends over the
span of 16 years I was at Cabrillo.
I was unhappy most of the time I was there. I did not have time for friends or a social life because I had
no writing assistance and, hence, no time.
When I returned to UC Santa Cruz in the fall of 2007, 18 years after I had graduated, DSS had become DRC, but there was no change
in their policies. I was still denied writing assistance. I was a disabled student, but my disability had never been accommodated before
and they did not inform me that I had any other option.
Had they told me, I could sue them for discrimination, I would have, but they never informed me
of my legal rights. I did not find out that I had that option until more than a year later (in 2009).
On October 12, 2009, I was writing a letter to the Chancellor of UC Santa Cruz. My undergraduate experience had
been so horrible, that, I kid-you-not, I had never thought about my undergraduate experiences, until then.
I was stunned as I realized
what the effects of denial-of-service would be, and were, on me.
The following week I went into DSPS to tell them.
I figured they did not know what they were doing - I was wrong.
I started to tell the staff member, I had always dealt with and she cut me off.
She smugly told me she had been aware I needed writing help
for years and had decided to withhold accommodation. I was too stunned by her revealing what she had deliberately done to me,
to do more than, get away from her as quickly
as I could.
Educational access will benefit our species in ways that cannot be imagined, but we must
change the way disabled people are valued
before that can happen.
Changing this system:
Change will not happen unless students demand change in access to education for their
disabled brothers and sisters. I have written to the administrations of both schools, but nothing happens.
Will require the financial means for the schools to fully implement the ADA.
Will probably require harsher penalties (incarceration) for the people in our colleges and universities
who prevent educational access to
TBI survivors by not accommodating their disability.
Our schools will need more funding, but what are the alternatives?
People getting an education knowing that others are being
excluded or tortured?
People terrified of physical calamity or disease because society will not help them survive when
disaster strikes or disease overtakes them?
TBI survivors knowing
their attempts to better themselves through higher education will lead to psychological anguish, social isolation
and ultimately will fail?
People that only care about their brothers and sisters who aren't vulnerable and in need of help and understanding?
Is that a society we want to live in?
This has been my account of my fruitless and frustrating 24 year struggle
for educational access. I was subjected to psychological torture and its lasting effects
because I sought to better myself through higher education. For example: it has taken me three years of
being away from the relentless
attack on my self-image to start to feel normal again. With the death of Ray (my buddy for 34 years),
I am finally starting to realize how effectively my social
life has been ruined.
I used to think that when I earned a PhD or a Masters Thesis, I would have the time and ability to make new
friends, to start a family.
The joke was on me. I could never reach my goals because I'm disabled. There is a hole in my life 27 years
I am trying to, but can not, understand why people from the uviversity and college, I attended, treated me like
I can come up with all these crazy scenarios, but I really have no idea why I was the focus of their animosity.
I trusted them and they screwed me.
Professor Tony Fink made an observation about me that sums up my outlook on life. His words were, "In spite of much
frustration he perseveres and maintains a cheerful attitude." You can read his letter by clicking -
reccommendation (close the window that opens to return to this page).
People attacked me, but what they were really doing is attacking the effort and dedication of the people who saved my life.
They need to realize in their insane desire
to ruin me, what they were doing. They were attacking the dedication and training of the air
traffic controllers who
guided the helicopters, the Park
rangers, the helicopter pilots
and the helicopter crews who rescued me and then flew me to the hospital in Modesto. They were trashing the dedication and
service of the doctors,
nurses, nurse's aids, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists,
EMTs, ambulance personnel and
others who saved my life and cared for me as I recovered.
I keep hearing about
TBI survivors commiting suicide. How many have tried to continue on with, or go to school and have been driven crazy by the student
organizations that are supposed to be helping them? Are the schools these organizations belong to aware of what these
organizations are doing to their clients? - I think not.
Whatever their reasoning or motivation,
the fact is;
rather then California and America
benefitting from having a motivated intelligent person with a PhD doing research into the Biochemistry of disease prevention and
I am consigned to a life of frustration and humiliation in school, disability payments and the lasting effects
At least I know where the social isolation and loneliness that contiues to plague my life is coming from.
The cascade of events started in 1984 with the first time the head of DSS refused me accommodation for my disability,
If you have not, or
even if you have, click denial-of-service to see that event, or click
consequences to see its effects (close the window that
opens to return to this page)
I have gotten no writing help
with my homework or with my lab write-ups in 24 years. Taking classes with much homework or much lab work
was not an option for me.
It took 24 years, but, at last,
I have given up on trying to do anything in the academic world. I gave my best for decades, but the
policies and attitudes of
DSS, DSPS and DRC, towards their clients have finally defeated me.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, if DSS, DSPS and DRC had done what they were
legally obligated to do, if
they had provided me with the ability to complete my homework: I would know the material better
as I would have time to think about how it related to lecture, I would have had time to socialize
with my fellow students and neighbors.
I would feel okay about myself. I would have done well in all of my classes. I could have
taken classes with a lot of homework,
lab work and lab write-ups. Ultimately, I would have spent many fewer years in
school. I would have time for a social life. I would have a girlfriend or
wife. I would probably
have children. I would have a job.
During the span of 24 years DSS, DSPS and DRC never provided me with
help for my homework. Instead, they tried to break me, but they did not succeed - I am not Gay
and I will never kill myself.
They have left me with a mediocre academic record, a terrible self-image, few friends, no wife or girlfriend,
no family, decimated social life and no job skills.
Why did DSS, DSPS and DRC attempt my ruin?
- Because they could?
- Because they thought that is what TBI survivors deserve?
- Because they thought no one would ever find out what
they were doing and had done to me
(an American citizen)?
Justice - I would like to see.
I would like an apology from UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo
College for what they have done to me. Some of their staff and employees chose
to deny me accommodation for my disability in violation
of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College owe me
registration fees for every dropped or failed class and removal of all failed
classes from my academic record.
DSS, DSPS and DRC are directly responsible for my terrible self-image. They isolated
me from my fellow stuedents every chance they could.
These three student organizations have caused me serious psychological damage. I
UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College to pay for a lot of psychological counseling to undo,
as much as possible, the damage that was done to me.
I believe that the institutions that employed, and continues to employ, these people are
criminally negligent in allowing sadistic people to psychologically torture and cause
some disabled students to be sexually harassed. There is no
feedback mechanism to alert the school, either UC Santa Cruz or Cabrillo College, as to what is
UC Santa Cruz and
damage to my life by requiring me to use their system of Fradulent Education for disabled
students. I would like to
see Denial-of-Service defined as psychological torture &
with legal ramifications,
including fines and imprisonment, for people that deny TBI survivors accommodation for their
disability in Higher Education.
Justice - as it stands
Both UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College
have taken no responsibility for the criminal actions of their employees.
Until enough people
know what they have done, and continue to do, to Traumatic
Brain Injury survivors (like me), they will continue with business as
These school have not apologized to me for what
they have done.
I have written to both schools - they
are aware of was done to me and have not investigated to find out
what happened and why it happened.
Most American institutions of Higher Education continue
to allow sadistic staff people to torture some of the students they are
being paid to serve, with no feedback mechaniism to alert others as to what is going on.
Until my fellow Americans demand change in the way survivors of
traumatic accidents are educated,
the reality, that finally
whipped me, will continue.
My passion is creativity. Drawing is difficult and frustrating, however there
is writing. Click writing to
see some of my efforts (close the window
that opens to return to this page). What has been done to me is not right. People need to know how TBI survivors are being
treated. By seeing how I was treated, my thoughts and frustrations, they can decide for themselves if the
system needs to be upgraded and (possibly) how to do it.
The ADA means nothing if the schools are not funded to meet the special needs of TBI survivors for educational access and if
the people, that abuse their power, are allowed to do so without severe consequences. Every school claims they adhere to it, yet
two schools that claim compliance with the ADA did this to me.
If there continues to be no accountability, what I experienced, will not change.
I found a quality
laboratory assistant at UC Santa Cruz by fortunate accident. Because of her, I was able to devote focus
my attention on the goal of the class -
protein purification and characterization.
It was not my responsibility to teach her basic techniques. See my evaluation for Biochemistry Laboratory by clicking
(close the window that opens to return to this page).
Competent writing and lab assistants are available.
It will require real desire and commitment to change from what we have now. Click on assistants to see what I am talking about.
How could DSS, DSPS and DRC not know what they were doing to people like me? The need for feedback from their clients is obvious.
Mutltiple people need to know what the client is thinking about the service they receive. Are their needs being met?
How they could ever subject a client to what I went through is, something I like to think, would not happen if multiple people
were involved with meeting the client's needs.
The policy DSS followed, DSPS and DRC are following today, leads to situations like mine. In these organizations,
single people can inflict
psycholgical harm on TBI survivors because others are not aware of what is happening.
When I think about
how I survived
my accident and all the slights, the multiple humiliations, the thinly veiled hostility, the condescension,
and all the other crap I've had to put up with over the span of 24 years from 1984 to 2008, I wonder. What is the
purpose of these organizations? Are they proud of their clients? Do they want them to succeed?
A mechanism is necessary for feedback from the clients. In 24 years, not once, was I ever asked about the
service I was receiving. Multiple people need to know how the client is being treated,
are the client's needs being met, etc..
When only one person knows what is going on, you can get abuse. For example compare
the efforts of DSS, DSPS and DRC to destroy my life with the hard work and dedication
Air Traffic Controllers, the First Responders and
Health Care Professionals who saved my life. Our higher education system needs to be upgraded
to give TBI survivors access to a quality education, one that rewards them with job skills and
does not punish them with poverty.
I have frustration,
poverty and social isolation to show for my 24 years of effort. My creativity, intelligece and hardwork was rewarded with no
job skills, no job, few friends, no wife and no family. What has happened to me is not what I would call
positive incentive to
try to make something of yourself after you have survived a traumatic accident.
I have written our elected officials, but nothing seems to change. If other people could write, e-mail and call,
you would be helping the weakest and most vulnerable Americans. TBI survivors need help with this issue. Thanks for reading. : )
A final note. I think the names of these departments ought to be changed to reflect the the reason for their
existence. I would
change the names from
"Disabled Resource Center" and "Disabled Students Programs and Services" to "Educational Access" or something similar.
As a disabled American, I was at school, not to be disabled, not to be lazy and not to kill time. I was at school to work
get an education so I could get a job. I had/have the capability
to do well, maybe even
excel, in class, if I had/have
access to higher education. I wanted to move on with my life and not dwell on what I can no longer do.
The name of the organization a TBI survivor is working with should look forward and not dwell on the past.
A change is gonna' come . . .